Unseen History In Eastern Turkey

August 27, 2013

Turkey has a long and colourful history. From Lycian to Roman to Byzantine to Ottoman Turk, Turkey has been the land gateway for trade between Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Important historical sites that give an insight into that history are still being found today and much still lies uncovered. The  majority of sites visited by tourists are in the west and centre of the country. By contrast, Eastern Turkey is rarely visited by foreigners but still has much to offer. 

The Zeugma Mosaic Museum in the town of Gaziantep in southern Turkey is the biggest of its kind in the world. It displays floor and wall mosaics and paintings that were uncovered and saved from flooding as dams were being built along the Euphrates. 

On Mount Nemrut, in South-eastern Turkey, a number of large statues have been erected at the summit. It is thought to be the site of a royal tomb from the 1st century BC. Few visitors to Turkey reach the mountain but those that do invariably climb to the peak to welcome in the sunrise. 

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The Fortress of Van in is a massive stone fortification built by the ancient kingdom of Urartu during the 9th to 7th centuries BC. The Armenians, Romans, Medes, Achaemenid and Sassanid Persians, Arabs, Seljuks, Ottomans and Russians have each controlled the fortress at one time or another. Today it is being restored in the hope of attracting tourists.

Children play in an abandoned Greek Orthdox church, left empty after a population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923. The exchange involved approximately 2 million people (around 1.5 million Anatolian Greeks and 356,000 Muslims), most of whom were forcibly made refugees and expelled from their homelands.

A Turkish Van Cat hides beneath some old building materials. The Van Cat is particularly famous for its white fur and differently coloured eyes, normally one blue and one brown or green. Their numbers are said to have been diminishing in recent years.